Portal:Astrobiology

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Astrobiology

Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of extraterrestrial life. This interdisciplinary field takes up the search for habitable environments in our Solar System and habitable planets in other solar systems, the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry, laboratory and field research into the origins and early evolution of life on Earth, and studies of the potential for life to adapt to challenges on Earth and in outer space. Astrobiology addresses the question of whether life exists beyond Earth, and how humans can detect it if it does.

Astrobiology makes use of physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, molecular biology, ecology, planetary science, geography, and geology to investigate the possibility of life on other worlds and help recognize biospheres that might be different from that on Earth. Astrobiology concerns itself with interpretation of existing scientific data; given more detailed and reliable data from other parts of the universe, the roots of astrobiology itself—physics, chemistry and biology—may have their theoretical bases challenged. Although speculation is entertained to give context, astrobiology concerns itself primarily with hypotheses that fit firmly into existing scientific theories.

Selected article

The Wow! signal
The Wow! signal was a strong narrowband radio signal detected by Jerry R. Ehman on August 15, 1977, while working on a SETI project at the Big Ear radio telescope of The Ohio State University then located at Ohio Wesleyan University's Perkins Observatory, Delaware, Ohio. The signal bore expected hallmarks of potential non-terrestrial and non-Solar System origin. It lasted for the full 72-second duration that Big Ear observed it, but has not been detected again. The signal has been the subject of significant media attention.

Amazed at how closely the signal matched the expected signature of an interstellar signal in the antenna used, Ehman circled the signal on the computer printout and wrote the comment "Wow!" on its side. This comment became the name of the signal.

Selected biography

Schulze-Makuch Dec2010.JPG
Dirk Schulze-Makuch is currently a professor at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Washington State University. He is best known for his publications on extraterrestrial life, being coauthor of four books on the topic: A One Way Mission to Mars: Colonizing the Red Planet (2011), We Are Not Alone: Why We Have Already Found Extraterrestrial Life (2010), Cosmic Biology: How Life could Evolve on Other Worlds (2010), and Life in the Universe: Expectations and Constraints (2004). In 2012 he published with David Darling Megacatastrophes! Nine Strange Ways the World Could End.

Schulze-Makuch's research interests and publications range from astrobiology, hydrobiology, archaeology, to cancer. To the viewer he may be best known for his work in astrobiology, in particular the possible existence of life on Venus, Mars, Titan, Europa and Io. His book Life in the Universe (with L. N. Irwin) considers alternative physiologies for extraterrestrial life.

Selected picture

Pioneer10-plaque tilt.jpg
Credit: Designed by Carl Sagan and Frank Drake

The illustration on the Pioneer plaque, an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence

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Astrobiology(11 C, 76 P)
Astrobiologists(70 P)
Alien language(1 C, 2 P)
Anthropic principle(8 P)
Extraterrestrial life(6 C, 50 P)
Extremophiles(18 C, 27 P)
Astrobiology journals(4 P)
Panspermia(18 P)
Planetary habitability(2 C, 10 P)
Astrobiology space missions(4 C, 20 P)
Square Kilometre Array(12 P)

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